I recently returned to Dallas from a two-week trip to North Carolina. The change of scenery and respite from the Texas heat were good for my soul. Of course, this trip looked quite a bit different than any other trip to North Carolina I have made since moving to Dallas a year ago. Typically, I fly, but this time I drove. My destination in North Carolina is 1,118 miles from my front door here in Dallas. I only stopped on the drive when I absolutely had to for gas, and when I pulled into each gas station I had a routine: mask-up, grab two Clorox wipes, make sure I only touched things with said Clorox wipes and use copious amounts of hand sanitizer upon getting back into the car.
The routine I developed is a tense one. I took breaths very sparingly, practically holding it until I could get back into the security of my car to sanitize my hands from anything I might have accidentally grazed outside of the Clorox wipe. It felt like I was holding my breath until I reached my destination. This whole pandemic feels like that in a way; we’re all collectively holding our breath until we finally reach the end and can breathe again.
I’m holding my breath hoping no one I love gets sick. I’m holding my breath hoping I don’t get sick. I’m holding my breath hoping that somehow cases and hospitalizations go down. I’m holding my breath waiting for a vaccine.
While I held my breath until I reached my destination, my trip did help me to breathe again. I spent several days in Great Smoky Mountain National Park camping and fly fishing, and I finally felt like I could breathe. In the streams, as I listened to the water flowing over the rocks and watched my fly float with the current, waiting for a trout to strike, I began to breathe deeply. As I cast my line out into the water, I breathed to the rhythm of the line moving through the air back and forth until it was released to meet the stream. Breathing in the cool mountain air, for me, was breathing the breath of God.
This Sunday morning, wherever you are, find your Smoky Mountain stream. Find a moment to be still and quiet. Find a moment to breathe, breathe deep the breath of God.